Big analysis of the Ukrainian game.
Guardiola generally does not accept performers in City who do not fit his philosophy. Obviously, any citizen player must have a certain set of qualities that will help the team to demonstrate attacking positional football. Particular attention is paid here not so much to the analysis of direct characteristics (like technique or physics), as to the assessment of the analytical abilities of a football player. Such research can be conditionally divided into two parts.
Order - how good the player is within the system, how he interacts with partners, can he be flexible and change his role without losing efficiency, how it looks in positional and transitional phases. With a sufficient level of learning and discipline, any high-quality performer can master the system settings.
Chaos is a reaction to unpredictable situations, improvisation, playing out of position, cooperation within a team in random micro-episodes. The coach can only tell the player when to take more risks and act outside the box. The rest depends on the creativity and analytical skills of each player.
Zinchenko is unique already because he combines both consistency (order) and a creative spark (chaos). Therefore, Alexander has been playing at the base of City for several years and regularly receives compliments from Pep.
“When you play football, you have to walk - or run much less. You have to run without the ball. But when you receive the ball, you are more in position, so let the ball run, not you, ”Guardiola teaches his players to use their strength rationally. Most of the time his team spends in positional attacks - and for an optimal performance in a 90-minute interval, you need really competent resource management.
Zinchenko and Man City are an almost perfect combination in this context. Sasha has an average speed endurance for a player in his position and is not always good in dynamic situations (when you need to make a sharp dash and compete with an opponent at a distance). The style of the team helps to neutralize these shortcomings of the Ukrainian: more control means fewer chances at your goal. More Kroyfovskaya truth. Pep does his best to keep the opponent's holdings to a minimum.
In other cases, the coach relies on a defensive structure (spatial and quantitative distribution, filling zones) and the individual qualities of the players (each rides on his best skills). Zinchenko, at least, has no special merits in terms of physics. What makes it a competitive option in place of LZ?
Developed anticipation (forecast of the development of a game situation) and correct timings. To assess the actions of a player in defense, only obvious characteristics are usually used: jerk dynamics, percentage of martial arts won, horse duels, success in 1-to-1 situations. This is hardly a forward-looking approach. It is not so important how often the performer enters into martial arts, if he has a sufficient level of intelligence to anticipate events on the field and win duels without force contact.
Recent studies have shown that higher level footballers are better at predicting the development of game situations. This is one of the things that sets them apart from average performers - flaws are masked by correct positioning, optimal use of space and correct timing - not at the expense of physics. In defense, Zinchenko is good because of his thinking, not his muscles.
An example from the November match with Olympiacos. Ederson throws mid-distance towards De Bruyne.